A Kale of Two Cities: Cultivating Social Justice

Food and Farm Farm School

Locavoracious appetites and a back-to-the-land ethos have raised bespoke urban farming to the status of high fashion, especially if the land sits atop an industrial building in one of Brooklyn’s hipster havens. To many, growing food in the city is an exercise for gourmands, measured by the distance heirloom tomatoes, artisanal honey, and free-range eggs travel from farm to plate. Urban agriculture pioneers have repurposed vacant land, greened the city, created community space, and introduced city dwellers to fresh local food. Terroir is now measured by block and lot number.

But this is not the whole story. In fact, as practiced in farms and gardens in New York and elsewhere, urban agriculture is as much about social justice as it is about the quality or proximity of produce. Read More

Fighting for Young Farmers: Lindsey Lusher Shute

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As Executive Director and co-founder of the National Young Farmers Coalition (NYFC), Lindsey Lusher Shute has united thousands of farmer-activists and supporters from all 50 states. NYFC is now in its fifth year of advocating for beginning farmers, helping them overcome significant hurdles.

Shute has a history of agricultural action: Before starting NYFC, she transformed an abandoned lot in Brooklyn into a flourishing community garden. Along with running the Coalition, she and her husband, Ben, are raising two daughters while farming 25 acres of vegetables and managing a flock of laying hens and a dozen pigs on Hearty Roots Community Farm in New York’s Hudson Valley. We talked with Shute about her work. Read More

All the News That’s Fit to Eat: Poultry Processing, Vermont’s GMO Labeling Bill, and Open Source Seeds

Photo: Shutterstock.

1. USDA Criticized for “Misleading” Claims about Worker Safety in Poultry Plants (Washington Post)

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) plan to speed up poultry processing lines by up to 25 percent has faced fierce opposition from food safety, worker rights, and animal rights advocates since the proposal was first floated in 2012. Now, the agency is under fire from another federal agency, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), for claiming that a recent NIOSH study shows that increased line speeds pose no additional risk to workers. NIOSH Director Josh Howard has called USDA’s conclusion “misleading.” The study, which found that rates of carpal tunnel syndrome among workers in one South Carolina poultry plant stayed roughly the same over a ten month period, is simply not extensive enough to substantiate USDA’s claims. Read More

‘Walmarting’ Organics: Who Wins?

Walmart Grocery Checkout Line in Gladstone, Missouri. Photo courtesy of the Walmart Corporate Flickr account.

Wal-Mart announced last week that it will soon start partnering with Wild Oats to sell organic pantry items like tomato paste and broth at prices as low as 25 percent below other name-brand organic products. What could be wrong with that? In the short term, probably nothing. But in the long term, it could ultimately enable the mega-retailer to dominate the organic market the way it dominates whole swaths of the retail economy, from razor blades to recycling bins. Read More

How a Design Student Cracked the Code to High Fructose Corn Syrup

First published in the March-April 2014 edition of Edible Manhattan. Photographs by Kate LeSueur.

This article was published in the March-April 2014 edition of Edible Manhattan.

Prior to grad school at Parsons, Maya Weinstein’s mediums included fine art photography and digital collage. But for her master’s thesis she settled on a stickier subject: High-fructose corn syrup.

“There are a lot of videos and articles on the web that talk about how scary and bad HFCS is for you, but there’s not really any information about what it actually is or how it’s made,” says Weinstein, a recent graduate of the School of Art, Media and Technology at Parsons the New School for Design. “I saw a void there that I wanted to fill.” Read More

7 Cities Pass Resolutions Urging Congress to Ban Unnecessary Antibiotics in Meat

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A new national grassroots campaign is aiming to boost awareness of the public health threat of antibiotic overuse in livestock production.

It’s been over a year since Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) introduced the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA), a bill that would ban the non-therapeutic use of antibiotics in livestock. And it’s been almost 10 months since Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) introduced a similar bill in the Senate. Both bills remain stalled in their respective committees, however. Read More